Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy dropped today, and features a major change for one of the characters. In December 2020, actor Elliot Page disclosed that he is transgender. Soon after, The Umbrella Academy decided that his character should transition in the show, meaning Vanya Hargreaves becomes Viktor in the new series. This is how and why that historic change happened. Just BEWARE OF UMBRELLA ACADEMY SPOILERS AHEAD.
Soon after Elliot Page went public with his transition, The Umbrella Academy’s showrunner Steve Blackman decided to re-write aspects of Season 3 to reflect that change.
Thomas Page McBee – who writes on The Umbrella Academy, and is trans himself – told Esquire how that process worked so late in the day.
“Steve was passionate about incorporating Elliot’s real-life transition into the show,” explains McBee. “It was right for the actor as well as the character because it deepened existing themes, Steve told me. The only problem? The scripts were locked.
“Season 3 was delicately arced out, and they were set to go into production in less than two weeks. The job would be to graft a transition story over the intricate plotting of an ensemble show.”
How Elliot Page was involved with his character’s transition
The writers didn’t want to transition Page’s character without consulting with the actor, and so he was involved every step of the way.
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“Elliot and I had a long conversation about when and how Viktor may have come to discover his gender identity, and in what ways he might embody that identity in Season 3,” McBee told Esquire.
“Steve and I used Elliot’s insights as a jumping-off point to form and neatly overlay an economical narrative on those existing scenes – one that echoed where Elliot was in his own transition process at the time of shooting.”
How is Vanya’s transition handled in The Umbrella Academy?
Vanya’s decision to transition is handled in simple, understated fashion during Episode 2. Following flashbacks to his romance with Sissy in the previous season, he visits a barber, looks at photos of men’s haircuts in the window, and enters with these words from Sissy ringing in his ears: “You don’t even notice the box that you’re in until someone comes along and lets you out.”
Then it’s done, with Viktor then emerging from the shop.
He enters the hotel where his siblings are drinking, and they ask who Viktor is. “I am” comes the answer. “It’s who I’ve always been. Is that an issue for anyone?”
This is how his brothers respond…
Diego: “Nah I’m good.”
Klaus: “Yeah me too. Cool.”
Number Five: “I’m really happy for you, Viktor.”
It’s a simple, beautiful moment of acceptance, which is followed by Luther telling Viktor how nicely the new haircut frames his face, and Diego reassuring him that he’s loved.
Viktor’s impassioned speech about his transition
But the most emotionally-charged exchange happens with Allison, when Viktor explains his reasons for transitioning.
“You couldn’t have known because I didn’t fully,” Viktor says. “Being with Sissy, I don’t know, she opened something in me. Showed me I’d never be free hiding from who I really am. And after losing her I realised I just can’t live in that box anymore. I won’t.”
Viktor then looks at his reflection in a shop window and says: “You know I always hated mirrors? Thought everybody looked so strange in their skin. I guess that’s not true.”
Allison asks what he now sees in the mirror. Viktor smiles and simply states: “Me. Just me.”
Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy is currently streaming on Netflix.